Subterranean Fifth Grade Blues

‘…[W]hen the language style of two people matched, when they used pronouns, prepositions, articles and so forth in similar ways at similar rates, they were much more likely to end up on a date… This is not because similar people are attracted to each other, Pennebaker says; people can be very different. It’s that when we are around people that we have a genuine interest in, our language subtly shifts.

But some of his most interesting work has to do with power dynamics. He says that by analyzing language you can easily tell who among two people has power in a relationship, and their relative social status. “It’s amazingly simple,” Pennebaker says, “Listen to the relative use of the word “I.” What you find is completely different from what most people would think. The person with the higher status uses the word “I” less….. We use “I” more when we talk to someone with power because we’re more self-conscious. We are focused on ourselves – how we’re coming across – and our language reflects that….’ (via NPR).